When I finally got honest about my addictions and began working a recovery program, I discovered the main whispered lie behind my self-destruction: “You are not lovable.”
Perhaps this single belief—that we are not worthy of love—haunts every one of us at some point.
My unconscious response to this belief was to try with all my might to show everyone, including myself, that I was worthy of love.
I spent many years inventing a “perfect self” by observing and imitating others who seemed to have the attention I so craved.
My therapist called this strategy the zero-sum game: When I observed and judged myself as less than someone else, I gave myself a minus 1. When I saw myself as better than someone else, I gave myself a plus 1. The sum of these two numbers is zero. Nobody wins.
In high school, I compared myself with the popular girls, judged myself as unworthy, and then began to imitate them. When they finally accepted me, I felt superior to the less popular girls (plus 1). When I got a good grade, I was on top of the world (plus 1). But when I received a low grade or criticism, I was devastated (minus 1).
Comparing myself to others set me up for a lifetime of debilitating perfectionism, one of my most painful survival strategies.
One might say I became an egotist with an inferiority complex. I went back and forth between seeing myself as either the scum of the earth or far above others. There was no middle ground.
Why do we try so hard to create this invented self? Those of us who grew up in troubled homes concluded, “If my caregivers don’t give me love, then surely I’m not worthy of it.” To prove them wrong, I set out to convince the world that I was lovable.
The irony is that the “impostor-self” doesn’t bring long-term security or contentment. In fact, it plays havoc with relationships, practically guaranteeing their failure. Since I believed my partner loved the person I was pretending to be, I was afraid if he knew who I really was, he’d take one look and run in the opposite direction!
Even more damaging, this illusion kept me from knowing the truth of who I am: a beloved, perfect, child of God / Universe / Spirit.
How do we discover our lovable self? Since I had been abused and had used sex to attract “love,” I felt impure and sinful. Deep down, I thought I wasn’t worthy of love. After years of therapy, recovery, and sexual healing groups, my gifted therapist said to me, “We’ve done everything we can through talk-therapy; now it’s time for energy healing.”
At my first session, the energy practitioner placed her hands on my head as I reclined with my arms and feet crossed. Then she asked me to repeat, “All parts of me are pure, innocent, and sinless.” After a few minutes, I felt a tingling sensation as I felt layers of negativity and shame being lifted out of my body. At the end of my second session, I left feeling lighter and free of a great weight. I was told to continue saying that affirmation.
Other energy healers have taught me tapping routines, and I use a wide variety of other cognitive and spiritual techniques to replace negative with positive self-talk. Most of those tools appear in my new book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now: Reject Negative Thinking to Find Peace, Clarity, and Connection.
Today, I know I am worthy of love. You too can come to believe these truths:
- You are a uniquely created and purely good being.
- Your essence—your true self—is a spirit of love and care.
- Your own worth is established by God / Universe / Love.
- Whatever isn’t good or pure is associated with your human experience on earth, not with your spirit.
- Whatever may have happened in your life, it does not override the truth of who you are in spirit.
I’ll close with a few words from my favorite Taylor Swift song, “You’re an Innocent.” (Complete lyrics available here)
“Did some things you can’t speak of; But at night you live it all again; Who you are is not what you did; You’re still an innocent. Every one of us has messed up too. Minds change like the weather; I hope you remember: Today is never too late to be brave.”
Gigi Langer is a former “Queen of Worry.” She’s also an educator, speaker, and author of 50 Ways to Worry Less Now, winner of the 2018 Indie Excellence Award. Learn to defeat negative thinking, find inner peace, attain clarity, and improve relationships–no matter what is going on in your life! Available through Amazon (5 stars), Barnes and Noble, and e-book sites.
Langer holds a PhD in Psychological Studies in Education and an MA in Psychology, both from Stanford. As Georgea M. Langer, she’s published several books for teachers and school administrators.